Season after season, you’ve toyed with the idea of sitting in a deer stand all day — even went to the woods with good intentions — but pulled the ripcord early. I get it. Slipping into a whitetail stand or blind before the sun crawls over horizon and staying put until darkness swallows the land is hard. It takes serious mental and physical strength, but can pay off in spades when it comes to dropping the string on a gagger buck.
Of course, you have to have your mind right. Know that freezing fingers and toes, boredom and heavy eyelids are part of most every dawn-to-dark sojourn. In addition to a positive mind set, being in decent physical shape helps as well. Blind chairs and cramped treestands can wreak havoc on the back, hips and legs. Taking the time to prepare your body for the rigors of all-day whitetail hunting beforehand will help, as will making sure your blind chair is comfortable and your treestand is situated in such a way that you won’t be cringing by 10 a.m.
Perhaps most important, though, is knowing what to put in your pack. From extra clothing to handwarmers to the right food, what you take to the whitetail woods can make or break an all-day sit.
You’re layered up and ready to go, but November weather can change in a hurry, and rain or snow can quickly become part of the equation. Quality rain gear that can be accessed quickly is a must. Don’t bank on your water-resistant clothing to get the job done. When the skies darken and moisture falls, get the Gore-Tex out and stay dry.
You can lose 40 to 45 percent of your body heat if you have an uncovered head. Lots of bowhunters don’t like stocking caps but replacing the Richardson snapback with something that will cover the ears and dome will keep your butt in the stand.
Heavy gloves are also a staple to an all-day sit. Operating a release and even gripping your bow can be hard if you can’t feel your digits. I understand that shooting with bulky gloves isn’t in the cards for most. I can’t do it, but I’ve never had an issue slipping out of my gloves and executing a shot.
You Can’t Have Too Many
I used to think handwarmers were a joke. I was wrong. I won’t venture out the door without a plethora of them in my pack. Being able to activate a heating device and let that device warm your hands, feet and body is a luxury that can take you from the pit of despair to not wanting to wave the white towel. I recommend a mixture of hand and body warmers.
Snacking throughout the day is another tip that will help keep your mind and body sharp. Food is where a lot of bowhunters fail when it comes to all-day sits. The second dry peanut butter sandwich is inhaled by 9 a.m., and by the time you wash it down, half your liquid supply has been depleted.
When it comes to food items, stay away from chips, nuts, sour candy, dry crackers and the like. Why? Dry, flaky foods get stuck in your throat and cause you to cough. Super sour and even too sweet candies can have the same effect.
Take healthy foods you enjoy and provide the body with plenty of calories. The whitetail bowhunter burns an average of 179 calories per hour on stand. That number goes up slightly if the bowhunter is cold, and the shakes set in. If you crunch the digits, you’ll see you burn an average of 2,148 calories during a 12-hour sit. Here are a few great food and drink items to put in your pack to make that all-day sit much more enjoyable.Coffee – Yes, it’s a diuretic, but I don’t mind peeing off my stand. Hot liquid in a thermos-style drink container will keep your innards warm and there’s nothing wrong with a little caffeine to fuel the body.Water – I fill a two-liter bladder with straight water and stuff a 32-ounce Nalgene bottle in my pack with a water/ Mountain Ops Ignite mix. This stuff tastes great and is loaded with nutrients.Beef Jerky – Loaded with protein, jerky is quiet and sticks to the ribs. Be sure when picking your jerky poison to choose a brand that isn’t too dry.Bars – Whether you go with Cliff, Luna, RX or one of the hundreds of other brands, a Ziploc full of various bars is a must.Dehydrated fruit – One of my favorites, dehydrated apples, mangos, pineapples and the like taste great and provide solid nutrition. Stay away from dehydrated bananas and other crunchy dehydrated fruits. They are loud and hard to wash down. A potassium-filled regular banana, though, hits the spot about 2 p.m.Sandwich – Pulling out the MSR Pocket Rocket and cooking a Mountain House isn’t the best idea while in a stand. If you’re in a ground blind, go for it. When 20-feet up, I like a sandwich loaded with my choice of meat, cheese and all the fixings. Build a pair of your favorite sandwiches and down one around noon and the other at about 4:30 p.m.Candy Bar – There’s nothing wrong with a little stand sugar, and knowing you have a few items in your pack that will appease the sweet tooth gives you something to look forward to. Snickers is a great choice. The bars are moist and being the peanuts are covered in nougat, this 132-calorie snack won’t have you hacking and gagging.
There you have it; everything you need to pull off an all-day sit for whitetails. One other thing to keep in mind, while planning your all-days sits, is weather and time of year. Strike during the rut on a high-pressure system and punch that tag.